The Spirit of Christmas
I was given a task by our church to write something or anything that would benefit our brethren, and the first thing that prompted into my mind is Christmas. I guess we're already in a Christmas state of mind that it dominates everything and is magnified from all whatever are in our minds, and thus when asked to write something, I immediately have suggested to write something about it.
What is The Spirit of Christmas?
I want to share with you what I've learned about the spirit of Christmas. I suppose that this is the most famous phrase in this time of the year. We talk about it a lot. We see a lot of people being interviewed on TV talk about it. We see it in greeting cards displayed in gift shop racks that say "We hope you enjoy the Spirit of Christmas."
With all of these comments, I wonder if we really know the spirit of Christmas. I began analyzing all of the given comments and I have found out that it varies from person to person. If I'd be asked back when I was a 7-year old kid what the spirit of Christmas is, my answer would be reunion.
Last week, the church played a video presentation where kids were asked about the spirit of Christmas. One kid said it is the coming of Santa Claus to town. The other said it is the joy of having my hanged stocking filled with toys and candies. And, of course, from this, we would know what other kids' responses are.
For an entrepreneur, the spirit of Christmas is that once in a year chance of bringing home buckets of money, gaining huge profits. For the poor, Christmas is a sad spirit. I know of parents who'd love to buy things for their children but couldn't due to their unfortunate circumstances. The sadness amplifies in frustration of the anticipated joy.
For some, the spirit of Christmas is thanksgiving; giving thanks for all the things that went the way we wanted them to be. To others, the spirit of Christmas is the opportunity to deny the deity of Jesus Christ. If there is a time when Christ is most often talked about, this is that time. The critics take this advantage to try to focus away believers from the truth.
Perhaps the most dominant response to the question "what is the spirit of Christmas?" is GIVING. We all get involved in giving, don't we? Everything is given from 5 pesos to Louis Vuitton bags to over-expensive diamond rings, and even cars. It is also a time for the wealthy to contribute money in charities.
There are indeed innumerable things that happen at Christmas that will lead us into different directions and blinds us from the true spirit of Christmas. All of these answers and suggestions given by these different people to be the proper perspective, no matter how good they may sound, let me tell you none of them really got it right.
If we really want to know the True Spirit of Christmas, we should consult to none other than the people who participated in the birth of Christ, the very first Christmas. They will tell us what the true spirit of Christmas is. Driven with curiosity, I had to study the scripture about the nativity found in Luke chapters 1 and 2.
Upon reading, I've noticed particular verses where these people tell us what the true spirit of Christmas is. Let’s have a look at them.
Luke chapter 1, verses 41-45
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
In Luke chapter 1, verses 41-45 we find Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary and mother of John the Baptist exclaiming a loud voice uttering the word blessed three times; overjoyed yet humbled by the experience.
Luke chapter 1, verses 67-68
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
In Luke chapter 1, verses 67-68, we find Zechariah, husband of Elizabeth and father of John the Baptist praising God because of God’s redemptive work.
Luke chapter 2, verses 13-14
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
In Luke chapter 2, verses 13-14, we find an angel along with a great company of heavenly host praising God, glorifying God.
Luke chapter 2, verse 20
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
In Luke chapter 2, verse 20, we find the shepherds glorifying God, praising God.
Luke chapter 2, verses 25-28
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God.
In Luke chapter 2, verses 25-28, Simeon, a devout and godly man and to whom by the Holy Spirit was told that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah, praised God.
Luke chapter 2, verses 36-38
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
In Luke chapter 2, verses 36-38, we find Anna, a prophetess giving thanks to God for the long awaited redemption of Israel.
Now, having just a glance at the people involved in the time of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, it would be obvious what the true spirit of Christmas is. It is what? Wor...ship.
The Spirit of Christmas is Worship.
It is that God-focused word that is far beyond human level kind of relationship that we tend to have in our minds,and thus misrepresent the spirit of Christmas. Sadly but true, that is not the focus of the majority of people. We are so preoccupied in ourselves, making ourselves feel good. Even most of the Christmas songs only focus on how much we should care about each other in this special occassion.
Now we've skipped the most important person that could give us the true deep meaning of the Spirit of Christmas, Mary, the mother of our Lord. If there's one person who's got the greatest intimacy and is most touched with the birth of our Lord, it is Mary.
In Luke chapter 1 verse 46-48, we read
"And Mary said, My sould doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."
And then she recites a hymn of praise, her magnificat, bursting out from her heart at the thought of redemption in the coming of the Messiah.
If we ought to know the attitude of worship, we should look up to Mary. Mary demonstrates to us how we ought to worship God. True worship comes from within, do you agree? Mary said... my soul... my spirit... It is always internal, never external.
Worship is not hearing choir music, lighting candles, kneeling down, participating in the rituals, hearing a sermon, and even taking up communion or the Lord's table. These may be manifestations of a true worship but is never true worship itself. And because these are all externals, we have no way of finding out if a person truly worships and exalts the Lord. Worship dwells from within. Worship is sprung out from a spontaneously overjoyed heart. Our Lord himself said God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in what? spirit.
And this is why I believe the spirit of Christmas is truly missed. We are so busy with ourselves and we just go to church just for the sake of going and never really have worshipping hearts. It’s all just in the surface, superficial, empty pseudo worship. The Spirit of Christmas is dead. We only thank and truly worship the Lord when things go the way we wanted, and if not, we confine ourselves in a box and we suddenly become indifferent and we easily forget.
A true Christian is always in a worshipping state of mind, overwhelmed in awe of the redemptive work of the most holy God who would stoop down and reach out to save an unworthy spiritually dead sinner like me.
My brethren, if there is a time to supremely express our worship, is it not in the arrival of our Savior? This time of all times is a time of worship. I hope in this most anticipated holiday of the year, we’ll celebrate it with a worshipping heart for the messiah has come, Immanuel, God with us.
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